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CASE No COMP/M.3099 : Areva / Urenco / ETC JV

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  1. Introduction
  2. Summary of the facts
  3. Arguments of the European Commission
  4. Reasons for the decision
  5. The nature of the proposed remedies
  6. Advantages and disadvantages of what is proposed by the Commission
  7. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography

In its decision of the 6th October 2004, the European Commission has assessed the compatibility with the common market of the concentration of two firms from the nuclear industry sector, following the procedure laid down in the merger regulation. This concentration was proposed by the French company, Areva (Société de participations du Commissariat à l'Energie atomique SA) and aimed at the creation of a joint venture, by a common control of ETC (Enrichment Technology Company Limited), a British undertaking which used to be wholly controlled by the British holding, Urenco Limited.
In this case, the Commission assesses the potential effects of this concentration on competition, since it raises serious doubts about the compatibility of this operation with the common market.
In order to comment this case, we will summarise the facts at stake, examine the arguments of the commission and its conclusion. We will also have a closer look at the remedies proposed before weighing the advantages and drawbacks of the Commission's proposition.

[...] But regarding the characteristics of the especially in the nuclear sector (high costs, long time, ) and the current situation (potential outcomes from Areva's R&D activities will only have effects in the long-run), it results that for the market of equipment there are no doubt about the compatibility of the merger and the common market all the more as Areva is using a declining technology and would be less and less efficient as time goes by. The situation is slightly different in terms of the supply of enriched uranium, where the Commission affirms to have ?serious doubts related to the concentration as notified by the parties?.[17] To justify its position, the Commission first examines the market shares of the companies present on the market and then analyses the potential impact of the concentration on competition. [...]


[...] Nevertheless, the Commission seems to continue adopting its hostile attitude towards the pretended efficiency of a concentration, arguing that the efficiencies presented by the parties as a justification of the merger are seldom consistent once the merger occurs.[22] But if the Commission does not analyse the efficiencies considered by the parties especially Areva's access to a more efficient technology at a lesser cost it is because before the end of its investigation, it has received commitments from Areva and Urenco which have removed its doubts Reasons for the decision The Commission has decided the commitments were sufficient to remove the serious doubts about the compatibility of the concentration with the common market. [...]


[...] Case, No COMP/M.3099 Areva / Urenco/ ETC JV, 06/10/2004. 7. Available at: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/competition/mergers/cases/decisions/m3099_2004 1006_600_en.pdf, 1/04/2006. Ibid. The development of this new technology by Areva would necessitate a lot of time and investments in R&D. Therefore, the acquisition of a part of ETC seemed to be the cheapest and the quickest way to reach its target. Ibid. 11. Ministère de l'Economie et des finances, Ecomine, Juin 2004, p.28. Available at: www.mineralinfo.org/ecomine/revues/0406Ecomine%20Juin%202004.pdf, 2/04/2006. art.22 : or more MS may request the Commission to examine any concentration ( ) that does not have a Community dimension ( ) but affects trade between MS and threatens to significantly affect competition within the territory of the Member State or States making the request.? Council regulation (EEC) No 4064/89 of 21 December 1989 on the control of concentration between undertakings, op. [...]

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